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SOU archaeologist featured in National Geographic TV show

Courtesy photo, Chelsea Rose being filmed for an episode of the National Geographic TV series of “Drain The Oceans.“

Chelsea Rose, a research archaeologist at Southern Oregon University, was featured in an episode of the National Geographic TV series “Drain The Oceans.”

In the episode, she examined Bodie, California, a 19th century gold-mining town that is now a California state historic park. The episode also looked at 19th century steamboat wrecks and the Little Bighorn battleground in Montana. It premiered Aug. 2.

Bodie is a unique place because it is still intact, whereas a lot of other gold-mining towns from the era were torn down, burned down or modernized.

“Most of the gold-rush landscape is gone because these were short-term, ephemeral occupations,” Rose said. “I think part of the reason why Bodie survived is because it's just out in the middle of nowhere.”

Jacksonville was also a former gold-mining town that nearly became a ghost town when the gold rush ended. However, over the years, Jacksonville developed into a modern community.

Unlike Jacksonville, Bodie never modernized and, as a result, it feels like a snapshot of the 19th century.

Growing up, Rose was fascinated by history and connecting with it through the physical objects that people leave behind. For her, being an archaeologist is less like being Indiana Jones and more like being Sherlock Holmes.

“Rather than seeking treasure and golden statues, we're more looking for all the little clues that kind of piece together to tell us about someone's life,” she explained.

For Rose, this Holmes mindset takes the form of examining the roles that historically marginalized and under-represented groups of people played in the past.

In Bodie during the gold rush, for example, Chinese immigrants came to look for gold and brought critical resources and supplies to the community.

“Having a better idea of the past, and to be able to highlight the stories that were erased, is a way for modern Oregonians and modern Americans to feel more represented and to feel more connected to the places they live in,” she said.

Reach Mail Tribune news intern William Seekamp at wseekamp@rosebudmedia.com.